• Cesarean Section in Small Ruminants – Part 2: Uterine Torsion and Cesarean Section in Llamas and Alpacas

    Birthing in llamas and alpacas is a rapid process. Studies in South America documented that >80% of crias (neonatal llama or alpaca) are born between 6 AM and 1 PM.1 Stage II labor (expulsion of the cria) occurs over a period of 10 to 15 minutes (range, 6 to 47 minutes).1 Dystocia is an uncommon event in llamas and alpacas. Studies in South America found that dystocia in alpacas (1660 birthings observed) occurred in 1.6% of birthings and that 25% of these occurred in primiparous females. Data in a smaller number of llamas (234 birthings observed) demonstrated dystocia in only 1 female (0.4 %).1 Interestingly, causes of dystocia differ in South America and North America. Uterine torsion is rarely found in descriptions of dystocia in South America. Causes of dystocia in these populations include fetal malpositioning with 30% of those occurring with the fetus in a posterior presentation and 70% in anterior presentation.1 Markedly less information is available documenting causes of dystocia in North American herds.2,3 What data is available seems to indicate that uterine torsion is a common cause for veterinary intervention of dystocia.2,4 The author‘s opinion is that fetal malpositioning is associated with the majority of dystocia in llamas and alpacas and that uterine torsion is over represented in the literature because these cases are more likely to be presented to teaching hospitals for treatment.3 more »
  • Infertility and Subfertility in the Female Camelid

    Poor reproductive efficiency has been described as one of the major problems in camelids. The mean annual fertility (birthing rate) in alpacas and llamas in South America can be as low as 45%. No studies exist on the actual annual pregnancy rates in alpacas on North American ranches. Informal surveys in our area of practice (Pacific Northwestern USA) show an annual birthing rate of 78%. Various congenital as well as acquired disorders of the reproductive tract in camelids have been described and may play an important role in reduced fertility.1 In many cases, diagnosis of the cause of infertility may require monitoring the female over at least one reproductive cycle (from follicular growth to mating and pregnancy diagnosis). The objectives would be to answer the following questions: What is the expertise of the breeder? Is the male fertile? Does the female have normal genitalia? Is the female ovulating? Judicious choice of examination techniques and interpretation allow reaching a diagnosis in an accurate and timely manner. The objective of the present chapter is to discuss the major presenting complaints with regard to camelid infertility as seen in practice, as well as the main reproductive disorders in the female camelid and the approach to diagnosis and treatment. more »
  • Biochar from Alpaca Manure, The Basics

    Waste management has been identified as an ongoing concern for livestock farms. For livestock farms/producers/stables waste management is an important part of the daily operation. Common practice for waste management is to remove and stockpile the waste away from the areas occupied by animals. These stockpiles are known to leach nitrogen (N) and other potentially harmful elements into the soil, and in the end, groundwater.[1] Innovative use of biochar has been proven to reduce N loss from animal waste, enhance the availability of N mineralization in soils, improve and sustain soil quality and fertility, and increase crop growth.[2] Biochar is the product of pyrolysis of a biomass feedstock at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen. The small livestock producer needs an alternative to the “stockpile” waste management which can be accomplished with minimal change to the daily farming tasks. Open air burning of the waste is a viable alternative to stockpile management but adds to the quantity of particulates in the air. Use of a biochar reactor to turn farm waste (manure/biomass) into biochar for the addition and enhancement of soil is a reasonable alternative to the stockpiling method. more »
  • Chromosome-Level Alpaca Reference Genome VicPac3.1 Improves Genomic Insight Into the Biology of New World Camelids

    The development of high-quality chromosomally assigned reference genomes constitutes a key feature for understanding genome architecture of a species and is critical for the discovery of the genetic blueprints of traits of biological significance. South American camelids serve people in extreme environments and are important fiber and companion animals worldwide. Despite this, the alpaca reference genome lags far behind those available for other domestic species. Here we produced a chromosome-level improved reference assembly for the alpaca genome using the DNA of the same female Huacaya alpaca as in previous assemblies. We generated 190X Illumina short-read, 8X Pacific Biosciences long-read and 60X Dovetail Chicago® chromatin interaction scaffolding data for the assembly, used testis and skin RNAseq data for annotation, and cytogenetic map data for chromosomal assignments. The new assembly VicPac3.1 contains 90% of the alpaca genome in just 103 scaffolds and 76% of all scaffolds are mapped to the 36 pairs of the alpaca autosomes and the X chromosome. Preliminary annotation of the assembly predicted 22,462 coding genes and 29,337 isoforms. Comparative analysis of selected regions of the alpaca genome, such as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), the region involved in the Minute Chromosome Syndrome (MCS) and candidate genes for high-altitude adaptations, reveal unique features of the alpaca genome. The alpaca reference genome VicPac3.1 presents a significant improvement in completeness, contiguity and accuracy over VicPac2 and is an important tool for the advancement of genomics research in all New World camelids. more »
  • The Maths of Matings, Part 2

    To recap from last week: 1. The formulae for one offspring per mating and with mates from the same group (eg all are known carriers, or all are daughters of the tested sire, or all are randomly selected from a population) are: more »